Staffers from Rep. Bob Gibbs' congressional office interviewed local veterans on behalf of the Library of Congress Veterans' History Project.

GREEN  Ilene M. Hall spent her 21st birthday in England and her honeymoon on Lake Como, Italy.

She's not a jet-setter.

It's just part of her many experiences as a member of the Women's Army Corps during World War II.

"I lived a lifetime in two years," she said.

On Wednesday, a staffer from Rep. Bob Gibbs' congressional office interviewed Hall and other local veterans on behalf of the Library of Congress Veterans' History Project.

The interviews were recorded on video at the MAPS Air Museum's Hall of Heroes at 2260 International Parkway.

Dallas Gerber, Gibbs' director of communications, said veterans from the World War II, Vietnam, and Iraq eras registered to participate.

"We think it's a great opportunity to gather stories," he said.

Gerber said it was the first time Gibbs' office took part in the project. Gibbs represents the 7th Congressional District.

"We're hoping to replicate this in other parts of the district," he said.

David Bissell of Canton is an Air Force veteran (E-4 sergeant) who served between 1969 and 1973 as an avionic and navigational equipment repairman.

"I love doing things with veterans and for veterans," he said.

A vital project

While waiting his turn to be interviewed, Bissell walked around and gazed at the aircraft on display, saying he was impressed by his first visit to MAPS.

"I worked on many different aircraft, which is archaic by today's standards," he said with a laugh.

It was also Gibbs' first visit to MAPS. He noted his father served on a B-1 bomber, during World War II, adding that he remembers his mother talking about rationing food and gasoline.

"In that era, everyone was engaged," he said.

Hall, who served as a driver in the Army Motor Corps in England and France between 1943-45, recalled women weren't permitted to carry weapons, nor were they allowed to serve on the front.

Hall, who said she has six albums filled with wartime photos and memorabilia, said she also remembers the kindness and gratitude of the British people.

Gibbs said collecting and preserving such experiences is a worthwhile and vital project.

"Fighting for our lives"

"It's really important, especially with our World War II veterans," he said, "It's important that our future generations will be able to watch videos and hear their stories, and always remember — it's a cliche now — but freedom isn't free.

"During World War II, we were fighting for our lives. For the first couple of years, we weren't winning. Can you imagine if Hitler had won? Their great-grandchildren need to know what their great-grandparents did."

Collecting the stories isn't a matter of glorifying war.

"War should be a last resort," Gibbs said. "when it does happen, we need to make sure people understand why, and get it over with as quickly as possible."

Reach Charita at 330-580-8313 or charita.goshay@cantonrep.com

On Twitter: @cgoshayREP